Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Harvey Goldsmith Vs. Big L

I really enjoyed last night's edition of Getting Your Act Together with Harvey Goldsmith on Channel 4.

Essentially the format is very similar to Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares - concert promoter Harvey Goldsmith tries to sort out an entertainer or act desparately in need of help.

This week it was slightly different, as he was trying to help commercial local radio station called Big L, based in Frinton.

While the programme is clearly edited to make Harvey Goldsmith look good (it's produced by Bob Geldof's company), the team at Big L did come across as hopeless.

They've set up a station in Frinton, a tiny seaside town, with an AM frequency, and also listening facilities on Sky Digital and online, making them technically not a local radio station. They've then staffed it with refugees from the BBC in the 1970s (Mike Read, Dave 'Diddy' Hamilton), who clearly don't realise that time has moved on. For me it really emphasised how much the media landscape had changed in the last few years.

1 - Focus groups are not bad, but they can be used badly. In their aim to set up an old fashioned radio station they had deliberately done no research, and had no musical policy apart from allowing the DJs to play what they wanted. Fine if you've got John Peel, less fine with their DJs.

2 - No one owes you a living. They had no concept of where the revenue was coming from, and no concept of why people in Frinton should listen. Their backers were not worried by the losses - stated in the show to be £50k per month - as they saw it as a start up. I've worked for companies that made no money, and they went bust, but I always prided myself on delivering more revenue than I cost. The DJs were bleating on about how hard they were working (18 hour days!) but what was the output?

3 - Marketing ideas are cheap, and you need to get the whole team behind them. Harvey's catchphrase of 'Growing Old Disgracefully' was pretty lame, as was his idea of the competition to join the mile high club. They should have brainstormed these together, rather than just had them imposed from him. (Not as bad as his idea for Saxon last week - an attempt to break the world air guitar record that went spectacularly wrong)

4 - Don't make a TV ad unless you've got lots of money. Big L seemed to waste lots of time shooting a TV ad - but how were they going to affor do get it shown? It's not even on YouTube.

5 - Don't appear on a reality show - especially not on the first series of a reality show. It was unclear who had called Harvey in, but they seemed to be under the misapprehension that he was just going to help them with some marketing ideas.

6 - Sort your website out. Their website has a listen again feature that works well, but why have the adsense ads at the top? I double they even make a fiver a week, and it just makes the enterprise look cheap.

7 - I'm Alan Partridge gets better with age. Several of the characters at the station seemed to be living their own Partridge lives, subsidised by the people bankrolling the operation. The set up at Big L would make a great sitcom.

Very entertaining show though - catch it on Channel 4's online service 4OD

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